Oh no, here we go again. Another UNC football player may have run afoul over NCAA regulations over – get this – a flier for his own birthday party. Senior wide receiver Dwight Jones is featured on a flier for a Burlington nightclub that is promoting a New Year’s Eve birthday party in Jones’ honor.
As the News and Observer reports:
NCAA rules prohibit athletes from appearing in advertisements that promote off-campus businesses or revenue-generating events. Jones, a native of Burlington, appears prominently on the flier for the party, which will cost $10 to enter – $20 for VIP treatment, according to the flier…
A phone call to a number listed on the flier went unanswered. An NCAA spokesperson, meanwhile, referred questions to UNC. Kevin Best, a spokesman for the UNC football program, said the university was aware of the flier that featured Jones and that it was “looking into it.”
It’s unclear whether Jones knew his likeness was being used, or whether he gave permission to the club to use his name and image. The flier emerged on Monday when Deadspin.com, the popular sports website, posted a link to it on its website.
For those unfamiliar with the athlete-sycophantic nightclub scene, it is fairly common for clubs to feature parties with famous sports figures, even at the college level. In fact, Clemson freshman and ACC rookie of the year Sammy Watkins was caught up in the same situation earlier this month.
Contrary to the N&O report, I would bet Jones knew his likeness was being used since it was apparently featured prominently on his Facebook page. Hello, have we not learned anything from the football unpleasantness of the past two years? Watch your social media, guys! And something else – please let the compliance office or someone at UNC know you are going to do this. On the other hand, it’s a fine line to walk. Jones’ eligibility will be exhausted after Monday’s Independence Bowl game, and the party occurs after that time. Plus, throwing parties falls under the “college kids being college kids” category.
Of course, as C. Michael pointed out in an email on Monday, it’s not like Deadspin has not ever made a mountain out of a molehill, what with their Jones “wants to violate a bunch of NCAA rules for his birthday” headline. That’s not the issue at all. The flier itself is the violation, but why let the real story get in the way of a snarky post.
What this means for Jones and his potential participation in the bowl game is unknown. Probably not much will come of it, as the NCAA took a look at the Watkins issue and cleared him to participate in the Orange Bowl. But given Carolina’s experience with the NCAA and player eligibility thus far, Jones will probably be ruled permanently ineligible, stripped of all his UNC football records, and forced to be a pall bearer at Kim Jong-Il’s funeral.
And while we’re at it, let’s juxtapose the fact that this kid is potentially in hot water with the NCAA over a birthday party flier featuring his likeness, but it is OK for Nike, the NCAA, and UNC to make a few bucks on this.